Friday, February 10, 2017

Fullerton City Council Notes 2/7/17

Lately, I've been attending Fullerton City Council meetings and writing up an account of what happened as "Council Notes" for the Fullerton Observer Newspaper.  Here's what happened at the last council meeting. Stay informed, my fellow Fullertonians!

Closed Session

Before every public city Council meeting, there is a “Closed Session” meeting in which the council meets with various parties and discusses items outside view of the public.  According to this week’s closed session agenda, council discussed the discipline, dismissal, or release of a Fullerton police officer.  Due to the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights (or POBAR), this officer’s name was not given.  Also, in closed session, council met with Steve Berliner of the Fullerton Fire Management Association (the Fullerton Fire Department’s Public Employee Union) to discuss “parameters for negotiating salaries, benefits, and working conditions.”  City attorney Richard Jones gave no closed session report.

Public Comments

Mayor Bruce Whitaker welcomed Eddie Burciaga, the official Spanish language translator for City Council meetings.  After a prayer by Fullerton Fire Chief Wolfgang Knabe, and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Fullerton City Council member Jennifer Fitzgerald, members of the public spoke to Council about non-agenda items.  

Two members of the public, Ronald Keith and Greg Warren, spoke of parking problems in different neighborhoods in Fullerton, stemming largely from the City’s historic overnight parking ban.  Resident Charles Sargeant commended city engineer Don Hoppe for the prompt response he received to a problem he’d had with his street.

Resident Tony Bushala stated that The Slidebar is operating illegally without a required conditional use permit, and that this establishment “continually and flagrantly violates Fullerton’s noise ordinances.”  Director of Community Development Karen Haluza explained that the Sidebar is operating legally under an “entertainment” permit, while acknowledging that noise complaints have been made against the Slidebar.   

Resident Jane Reifer brought up potential traffic problems should City Council approve the proposed “Red Oak” high density development on Commonwealth.  On this same issue, resident Jane Sylvester announced a public referendum signature-gathering effort to put the Red Oak development to a public vote, stating that those opposed to the development may sign the petition at Ralphs and Stater Brothers grocery stores.

Proposed Red Oak Development

Derek Kirk of the North Orange County Chamber of Commerce invited the public to the upcoming “State of the City” event at the CSUF Titan Student Union, March 30th at 11am.  

Council/Staff Communications

City Attorney Richard Jones gave condolences to the family of his law partner, Marty Mayer, who recently passed away.  Mr. Mayer was a recognized statewide expert on Law Enforcement, serving as general council to California State Sheriffs Association, the Police Chiefs Association, and the Police Officer’s Association.  Mayor Whitaker and other members of council also gave their condolences to Council Member Fitzgerald, whose father Lester Alan Cowen recently passed way.  

Council Member Greg Sebourn, who serves as Chair of the Groundwater Replenishment Steering Committee, and the OC Sanitation District, spoke of the positive impact of recent rains on our local groundwater situation. Sebourn said, “Water quality is phenomenal now with the very burdensome but very helpful restrictions on stormwater/pollution prevention.  The quality of the runoff that is going into our rivers and streams and ultimately into our aquifer has not been this high in many decades.”

Council Member Doug Chaffee reminded the public about the upcoming Art Auction for local nonprofit All the Arts for All the Kids Foundation, which is happening Saturday, April 22, at the Fullerton Museum Center.



Public Hearings

City Council voted 4-1 (Silva “no”) to deny an appeal brought by residents against the Fullerton Planning Commission’s approval of a residential lot division at Margarita Drive, near the intersection of Bastanchury and Euclid Ave.   Neighbor Jesse Rodriguez, who brought the appeal, cited a petition signed by 250 local homeowners who were opposed to this lot split.  Residents raised concerns about safety issues created by adding a new driveway off Euclid, where cars drive by at high speeds.  Other neighbors were concerned that subdividing this lot would disrupt the “rural flavor of the neighborhood,” which is horse-friendly.

Council Members Appointed to Regional Advisory Bodies

Former City Council member Jan Flory thanked council for letting her serve on the Orange County Water District (OCWD) Board for the past three years, asking that she be re-appointed.  The OCWD “manages, replenishes, and protects the Orange County Groundwater Basin—Orange County’s largest source of drinking water” (www.ocwd.com). Flory said that the OCWD is contending with important challenges, such as the North Basin Contamination, caused by decades of industrial pollution in Fullerton and Anaheim, which has seeped into local soils and a small portion of groundwater.  Contamination extraction wells have been built or planned at the Kimberly Clark plant, and at Woodcrest Elementary school.  Flory described the pollution “plume,” which has now expanded more than a mile, and begun to sink into our middle aquifer, from which we pump our water.  


Flory was not re-appointed to the OCWD.  Instead, Mayor Bruce Whitaker was appointed to this board as well as the Santa Ana River Flood Protection Agency Board, and the Water Advisory Committee of Orange County/Municipal Water District of Orange County.  In short, Mayor Whitaker will be our chief representative in determining water policy in this region, and dealing with the aforementioned challenges.

Council Member Jennifer Fitzgerald was appointed to the Orange County Mosquito Vector (aka Pest) Control District Board, whose mission is “to provide the citizens of Orange County with the highest level of protection from vectors and vector-borne diseases.  A ‘vector’ is any insect or other arthropod, rodent, or other animal of public health significance capable of harboring or transmitting the causative agents of human diseases, or capable of causing human discomfort or injury.” (www.ocvector.org)


Council Member Doug Chaffee was appointed to the Fullerton Investment Advisory Committee, which “reviews and makes recommendations on the City’s investment strategy and policy.”  Mr. Chaffee was also appointed to the Fullerton Arboretum Commission, which “oversees the development, use, and maintenance of the arboretum facility on the campus of California State University, Fullerton.” (www.fullertonarboretum.org)


CalRecycle Program Funding (Eco Challenge)

City Council discussed the best way to spend funds from the CalRecycle program. Fullerton gets about 35,000 a year for this program, and funding can be used in various ways, including purchasing park furnishings and creating educational programs.  The Parks and Recreation Department recommended partnering with the Discovery Science Center.  Council Member Fitzgerald recused herself from this discussion and vote because her husband is a consultant and former employee of the Discovery Science Center.  Council member Silva made a motion to apply some money to recyclable park furnishings, not to give the money to the Discovery Science Cube, and instead to create a “Notice of Funds Available” for local  (Fullerton) nonprofits.  This motion passed 3-1 (Chaffee “no”)


Council Repeals Blanket Residency Restrictions on Sex Offenders

Jim Touchstone, a lawyer representing the City of Fullerton, recommended that Fullerton repeal its 2010 ordinance imposing residence and location restrictions on registered sex offenders.  This opinion was given following a California Supreme Court Decision that found “blanket” residence restrictions such as this to be unconstitutional, as well as a lawsuit filed by a Mr. Frank Lindsay against the City of Fullerton, and 17 other cities in California, most of which have since repealed similar ordnances.  Mr. Touchstone said, “Based upon the legal authority out there, its unlikely that we will prevail in this case.”  

Resident Barry Levinson, who spearheaded this 2010 ordinance, expressed frustration that he wasn’t contacted by the city about this repeal, and argued that Fullerton’s ordinance is not “blanket” enforcement, because our ordinance only restricts child sex offenders, not all sex offenders.  

Council member Chaffee, who is himself a lawyer, stated, “It’s clear to me that the way this ordinance is written, it is unconstitutional.”   Council member Fitzgerald stated, “This is disgusting, obviously, that the state courts have decided that communities can’t take further steps to protect its citizens, especially its children.  So I take absolutely no pleasure in repealing this ordinance.”  

City Council voted 5-0 to repeal the ordinance.  All state laws are still in force to track registered sex offenders.  

Early Morning Parking on Sapphire

City Council voted 5-0 to rescind the “Early Morning Parking” restriction on the east side of Sapphire Road between Topaz and Yorba Linda.

Safe and Sane Fireworks Applications Due Soon

In November 2012, with passage of Measure X, Fullerton voters reinstated sales, possession, and discharge of “safe and sane” fireworks.  Currently, the city allows 15 fireworks stands, and all sales are limited to Fullerton non-profit groups.  Applications will be accepted from March 1-31. On April 18th, City Council will conduct a lottery to determine the 15 lucky non-profits who get to sell fireworks in Fullerton.

Consent Calendar

The last part of all Fullerton City Council meetings involves something called the “Consent Calendar” which is a list of items to be voted on “en mass” (with a single vote) unless a member of the public “pulls” an item for discussion.  The most discussed item was an ordinance approving a zoning change for the controversial Red Oak Development project (a proposed high-density apartment complex) on Commonwealth.  The zoning change was one of four agreements that are part of the development approval process.  

Resident Jane Reifer pointed out errors in the city documents, potential problems with parking and traffic, and suggested that by approving the zoning change, the city was giving away its negotiating power to extract concessions from the developer, Red Oak Investments.  Refer suggested that the city aggendize a repeal or amendment of the development approvals at the March 7th meeting.  

Resident Matt Leslie stated, “Just in case you decide not to grant our request, we have initiated a signature-gathering effort intended to overturn the approvals,” adding “We haven’t had much trouble getting signatures.  It (the Red Oak Project) is not popular…I would encourage you to please respect the concerns that have been raised by many individuals,” referring to the overflow crowd at the last Council Meeting who were largely opposed to the development.  Leslie also encouraged residents to visit savefullerton.com.

Council voted 3-2 (Whitaker and Silva “no”) to adopt the zone change.

Also included in the Consent Calendar was the All the Arts for All the Kids Heart Project, approving this local nonprofit “to place five heart sculptures on city property in the downtown area.”

Council also approved appropriation of funds for the Raymond and State College grade separation projects, and gave a contract award to GRFCO, Inc for the Kimberly Ave Storm Drain Improvement Project.  

The meeting ended with a moment of silence for Marty Mayer and Lester Alan Cowen.

There will be a special budget workshop on Wednesday, February 15th.

The next regular Council Meeting will be, Tuesday, February 21st at 6:30pm at City Hall.

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